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Natural radioactivity levels of some medicinal plants commonly used in Ghana

Lordford Tettey-Larbi12*, Emmanuel Ofori Darko12, Cyril Schandorf1 and Alfred Ampomah Appiah3

Author Affiliations

1 Graduate School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences, University of Ghana, P. O. Box AE 1, Atomic Energy, Kwabenya, Accra, Ghana

2 Radiation Protection Institute, Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Box LG 80, Legon, Accra, Ghana

3 Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine, P. O. Box 73, Mampong-Akuapem, Ghana

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SpringerPlus 2013, 2:157  doi:10.1186/2193-1801-2-157

Published: 11 April 2013

Abstract

Natural radioactivity levels in some selected medicinal plants commonly used in Ghana from the Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine were investigated to determine the activity concentration and the annual committed effective dose due to naturally occurring radionuclides of 238U, 232Th and 40K. The activity concentration was determined using gamma-ray spectrometry. The results of the analysis indicated an average activity concentration of 238U, 232Th and 40K in the medicinal plants to be 31.8±2.8 Bq kg-1, 56.2±2.3 Bq kg-1 and 839.8±11.9 Bq kg-1 respectively. Khaya ivorensis recorded the highest activity concentration of 238U and 232Th while Lippia multiflora recorded the highest activity concentrations of 40K. The total annual committed effective doses ranged from 0.026±0.001 to 0.042±0.002 mSv a-1 with an average value of 0.035±0.001 mSv a-1. The average annual committed effective dose due to ingestion of the natural radionuclides in the medicinal plant samples were far below the world average annual committed effective dose of 0.3 mSv a-1 for ingestion of natural radionuclides provided in UNSCEAR 2000 report. Therefore, the radiological hazard associated with intake of the natural radionuclides in the medicinal plants is insignificant. The results provide baseline values which may be useful in establishing rules and regulations relating to radiation protection as well as developing standards and guidelines for the use of medicinal or herbal plants to the appropriate authorities.

Keywords:
Medicinal plants; Natural radioactivity; Gamma-ray spectrometry; Annual committed effective dose